What Can Affect Performance?
Some days everything is going well: you’re hitting personal records, getting new moves, and feeling very energized. Then the next day, suddenly you can’t even do what you did last week. This is pretty normal. A lot of little things can have an impact on your performance. It varies from person to person too, but these are the things I’ve noticed affect me.
|Negative impact||Optimal performance|
|bad night’s sleep (this compounds)||being rested (a good night’s sleep, not too much activity or stress the day or two before)|
|being dehydrated||being hydrated (just drinking a lot right before exercise is not enough, it needs to be spread out)|
|no food before exercise (or alternatively, a very large meal right before)||having a small meal/snack involving carbs 60-90 minutes before exercise|
|not exercising for >= 4 days||when I have exercised in the past couple of days, but not too strenuously|
|being stressed in general, or even rushing to get to class||feeling happy and energetic (about life in general. A bit of caffeine can also help)|
|feeling hungover/under the weather/recovering from and illness||not feeling thirsty, hungry, too sore, or ill|
|bad time of month (for women. The worst for me seems to be right before & during shark week)||good time of month (currently estimating this to be at the halfway point)|
|hot or bad weather||good, medium temperature|
|an uncomfortable outfit (for example, leggings that keep sliding down and annoying me)||feeling good about how I look|
|serious DOMS||being very mildly sore|
|feeling distracted and not paying attention||a little bit of pressure and wanting to impress, but not too much|
|(especially long-haul) flight a day or two before (biggest effect is on back flexibility)|
|for me, in the afternoon (I don’t feel as ready in the morning unless I’ve had coffee and breakfast, and sometimes I’m too tired or distracted in the evening)|
|good company, feeling encouraged by an instructor|
How to Optimize
Based on all this, I’ve established some guidelines for how often and when to train:
- Train at least 3 but not more than 6 days a week, and space out the most intense sessions accordingly.
- If I don’t exercise at all for >=4 days, I start feeling like my muscles are atrophying. Exercise doesn’t have to be yoga/full body; a hike or a swim can prevent this feeling. This is worsened if I’m flying during those days. If I start off sore (DOMS), then it takes longer (5 days).
- Soreness usually lasts for 2 days; if it’s bad, it can also be 3, and very rarely longer. If it’s mild it can be gone within a day or two. This is another reason why I tend to space out very active sessions with more relaxed or restorative ones.
- Every so often (for me, every 2 months on average), it’s good to take a longer rest (at least 3 days, occasionally even more, e.g. 1 or 2 weeks of only light exercise) to give the muscles lots of time to heal. Surprisingly you can come back immediately stronger after such a break.
I also pay attention to other factors that influence performance: